note: entire contents copyright 2013 by Richard Pacheco
Your Theatre opens its 68th season with Neil Simon’s autobiographical “Broadway Bound,” the last of the “Eugene” trilogy, and the result is a funny, often touching production well acted, full of vitality and sincerity propelled by a strong cast. The play received four Tony Award nominations and received four nominations for the Drama Desk Award. It also was a 1987 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play is about Eugene and his older brother, Stanley, dealing with their parents' relationship falling apart as the brothers work together toward being comedy writers for the radio, and, eventually, television. Drawn from Simon’s personal experience, the play has a definite resonance and vibrancy that is undeniable and highly appealing.
Zane Furtado, who in the previous two incarnations of the Simon trilogy, is once again Eugene after playing Stanley in “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and shifting to Eugene in “Biloxi Blues” carries on the character development in this play. It is a poised and polished performance full nice touches and nuance as Eugene confronts the combined struggles of trying to e a writer with his brother and his parent’s disintegrating marriage.
Ian Vincent makes his debut with Your Theatre in the role as Stanley, Eugene’s older brother. It is an auspicious debut. Vincent has a terrific sense of comic timing. He is a bundle of energy, at once frantic and focused. He is a nerd crossed with the energizer bunny, all movement and frenetic energy.
Stephen Kay is Ben, the crusty often absent minded grandfather who is big on family, intelligent and stubborn. Ben loves his family but finds it difficult t tell them so and express his emotions. Kay, an experienced actor and director brings depth and nuance to the role. He is a wonderful mixture of cranky and forgetful, often falling asleep at inopportune times which he handles with skill and finesse.
Tony Oliva is Jack, the father, who has changed considerably since “Brighton Beach Memoirs” Then, his family was his focus and he was determined to get the best for them no matter what. Now, that focus and determination is gone and he is deeply troubled, his marriage falling apart and him getting ready to leave them all behind. It is a vivid and convincing performance, very sincere and compelling. He is not a villain, but a man in crisis at a lost to determine his direction with the inner chaos that envelopes and engulfs him,
Michelle Mastroianni is Jack’s wife, Kate. She is a woman who is strong and vibrant in the face of impending disaster, ready to do what it takes to take care of her family. It is a wonderful performance, rich and varied. Mastroianni has a masterful comic timing and the ability to shift into more emotional and deeper moments with style and poise. She has an excellent Brooklyn accent that is convincing and alive.
Carol Oliva is sister in law, Blanche. She is frail and a widow, remarried to a wealthy man. She is aware of what she considers her own worthlessness and unimportance. Yet Oliva’s performance she is not reduced to a pathetic character, but someone who struggles to get out of the emotional ditch she dug for herself.
Director Larrence Houbre shows a keen eye for detail here and ably and deftly keeps it all on track, the humor taut and the emotional moments on target.
Mark Fuller’s set, basically a recreation of the “Brighton Beach Memoirs” set eh created is impeccable, full of intricate details and a sense of familiarity and hominess that is appealing and cozy,
“Broadway Bound” at Your Theatre, 120 Rivet Street on the Corner of County, New Bedford, MA www.yourtheatre.org or call508-993-0772. Sept. 18- 21, and 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Matinee on Sept 21 2:30.